The crew in Spain have come up with devilishly clever new tools this week – the Ground Control sequencer and Golden Master multiband processor, both ideal for playing live.

We can’t gather with synth builders right now, which is too bad – because it’d be fun to hear the team at jamming live on this stuff and party to those sounds. (We already saw Julia Bondar, their creative director, practicing hard in a literal desert.)

But Ground Control and Golden Master are here, giving you some extra time to practice. Ground Control (US$699/599 EUR) is getting a lot of the attention, with good reason – it’s a unique and powerful approach to sequencing and generating ideas. But for $200 bucks, Golden Master may be the sleeper hit slow burn, once people work out that it’s perfectly suited to making your live mix punchy and even.

Ground Control

There are sequencers for Eurorack. A lot of them are … peculiar to those of us accustomed to desktop sequencers. What’s intriguing about Ground Control is, it’s a sequencer that appears to make sense both to modular nerds and … well, also everyone else. It makes enough sense that you might consider getting a small rack just to use this and a toy or two.

So it does CV, but also MIDI and USB MIDI sequencing, meaning it can be a companion to a computer or bridge to computer or digital instruments.

There is a cute little two-octave keyboard (just switches, no velocity/pressure, but meaning you’ll always be able to program this without extra gear).

And you get four tracks – drum track with 8 triggers and modulation, three melodic/CV gate tracks. It works as a power supply for your modular. And it just does a lot of input modes:

101-style step editing, x0x-style drum editing, live recording, arpeggiator (with an easy latch mode), roller (for adding fills), queue up patterns, slide, tie/rest, transpose, the lot. You can ratchet for rapid-fire subdivisions, control probability, all the tricks you need live.

Here’s a great overview / walkthrough:

And a more extensive tutorial by loopop:

There are a small number of purpose-built sequencers with these kinds of compositional tricks, and fewer still of those are really accessible.

The Arturia BeatStep and KeyStep Pro are still less expensive, of course, explaining why they’re so ubiquitous next to modular rigs – and they add velocity. But it’s great to have something in rack form with some new ideas (and I imagine some will still combine them).

Golden Master

Golden Master is inspired by “90s radio loudness units” but – hey, playing some modular battle-of-the-bands, the loudness wars are real.

Now play nice and don’t just brickwall the heck out of a screwed up modular mix, or I’m taking yours back. Specs:

  • 6 hp width, final output multiband processor for Eurorack
  • instantly improve your raw Eurorack mixes to sound balanced and powerful on stage or wherever you are
  • 96 kHz 16 bit digital audio stereo processing
  • 3-band compressor with intuitive adjustment and brickwall limiter (1.5 ms look ahead, to make the compression more precise)
  • mid/side stereo field processing
  • depth: 30 mm (with ribbon cable connected)
  • power requirements: +12V: 135 mA, -12V: 25 mA